Motueka residents are overwhelmingly in favour of a proposed ferry link between the town and Whanganui, early survey results show.
The online survey, by the Motueka Development Trust, attracted 93 responses in its first week.
Trust chairman David Armstrong said 80 per cent of those giving feedback supported the link, however, concerns of increased traffic and environmental impacts were also raised.
A study on the multi-million dollar proposal by Whanganui-based firm Midwest Ferries has identified 45 new jobs in Motueka and 70 in Whanganui, should the venture go ahead, said the Whanganui Chronicle.
It shows that a ferry service, with one sailing each way once a day, would be profitable within its first year of operation. It would cost in an excess of $50 million to launch.
Armstrong said the trust offered to act as a conduit between Midwest Ferries and the community to make information on the proposal available to residents.
“The trust does not have an agenda. We just offered to gather and circulate information. We don’t want to have uninformed residents making uninformed decisions.”
Trustee Gail Jewell said it was important the community had early input to the proposal so it could identify any issues.
“The community knows the area best and has ideas on how it can be done.”
Midwest Ferries believed a regular ferry service would be a viable and economically advantageous alternative to the present Wellington – Picton service, said the Chronicle.
The service would provide a shorter route for most interisland transport services and the opportunity for tourists to travel between the islands using two separate routes, in effect making a loop.
New berthing facilities would be built at Port Motueka and would involve dredging and land reclamation in the area.
Neville Johnson of Midwest Ferries told the Chronicle the project study would be made available to the Whanganui Port Revitalisation team for its consideration.
He was confident the group would include the proposal in plans to revamp the city port and generate maximum commercial activity from the current port infrastructure.
But public support was still required to help raise $160,000 to take the proposal to stage two of five to be completed by the end of July.
“We want to hugely thank the public of Whanganui for its generosity – we have raised $60,000 in six weeks – staggering stuff,” Johnson told the Chronicle recently
“There is incredible belief in this proposal. If we can make it work it will be one of the largest economic development opportunities for both regions.”
The report’s consultants had revisited a possible link with Nelson but ruled it out as an option, “reinforcing the case for a South Island link at Motueka” Johnson told the Chronicle.
Port Motueka’s main wharf is owned and operated by Talley’s Group.
Company director Andrew Talley confirmed last year Johnson had been in consultation with them.
The survey, which would be open for the next fortnight, can be found at:surveymonkey.com/r/QBJ6PXD